Go South for the Winter… At least for a Weekend or Two

By Bob Grove

Unless you live in Randolph, Utah or Evanston, Wyoming you’d probably agree that this winter hasn’t been as bitterly frigid as those experienced in recent years; chalk it up to global warming or El Nino, but it’s still cold! If you’re like me I need a reprieve about this time of year from gray skies, slush, bitter winds and the infamous Wasatch inversion. My solution:─jump in the car and point south. Now I know I can drive 30 minutes and be in the mountains where I can leave the valley sludge behind, but green grass, red rocks and conditions favorable for hiking and biking are prerequisites to my definition of a warm weather escape.

Just the right place for such an escape is St. George, known as Utah’s Dixie or the other Palm Springs. Tucked away in the southwest corner of Utah, St. George is a quick four hour drive down I-15 from Salt Lake. This is winter haven for Wasatch Front snowbirds and has been since the pioneers entered the valley.

There are number of reasons why now is a great time to visit St. George. First, it’s warm in the winter. Even 50 degrees feels warm after subfreezing temperatures in the Salt Lake Valley. It’s amazing how 50 degrees is jacket weather in the spring and fall and short sleeve weather in the winter. However, it does get quite cold at night in St. George so bring a warm jacket. Second, it offers an abundance of outdoor recreation. Washington County, home to St. George and Zion National Park, is an outdoor mecca of hiking, biking, ATVing. My favorite place to hike is Snow Canyon, one of Utah’s premier hiking parks, which is often overshadowed by nearby Zion. There are a number of trailheads located inside the park just off the main road, behind the Tuacahn Amphitheater and along Highway 18 that runs between St. George and Veyo. For information on Snow Canyon visit: www.stateparks.utah.gov.

If you want a relaxing place to stay on your visit, Red Mountain Spa in Ivins, just outside the entrance to Snow Canyon, offers packages that include lodging, healthy cuisine and activities like hiking in the park. Staying at Red Mountain combines adventure with pampering, which is how I like to rough it. For more information about Red Mountain visit: Red Mountain Resort.

If St. George isn’t warm enough, just down the road a mere 35 miles is Mesquite and 75 miles further is Las Vegas. There you can find warmer temperatures and plenty of outdoor recreation. No, gambling isn’t an outdoor sport unless you’re betting on who can descend the hill fastest without biffing it. For ideas on what to do in and around Mesquite and Las Vegas check out travelnevada.com and click on Things to Do.

One of the many benefits of living in the Wasatch Front is that you don’t have to go far for a change of scenery or temperature. With gas prices plummeting as they have the past few months taking a road trip won’t cost you next month’s paycheck. In fact, many of the lodging companies, recreation outfitters and attractions are daring us to travel by offering deals we presumed were extinct. This is good news considering how tight the economy is. Travel to me is a necessity, not a want. It keeps me from becoming a couch slug and provides a needed dose of therapeutic decompression. You’re welcome to use this reason the next time you’re trying to justify a trip somewhere.

Whatever the reason, maybe making the short drive to St. George this winter will give you an added boost of vitamin D and adrenaline that will clear your mind, reduce your stress and renew your spirit. Listen to the travel doctor; for Seasonal Affective Disorder, better known as the winter blues, I prescribe a healthy dose of Utah’s Dixie. Take three days, two nights and call me in the morning. For more information about Utah’s Dixie visit: www.utahstgeorge.com. Check out my blog at driveawayadventures.com for news, tips, insight and advice.


About Author

Jenny Willden is the Managing Editor of Outdoor Sports Guide and a self-proclaimed gear and grammar nut. She's a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association and the Adventure Travel Trade Association. A lover of adventure and travel, she's happiest when riding horses or snowboarding in Utah’s mountains. Follow Jenny’s exploits on Twitter @jennywillden or Instagram @jlwillden.

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